From our friends at Wikipedia, James "Jimmy" Winkfield (April 12, 1882 - March 23, 1974) was a Thoroughbred jockey and horse trainer from Kentucky, best remembered as the last African American to ride a winner in the Kentucky Derby.
Winkfield was born in Chilesburg, Kentucky and began his career as a jockey in 1898 at age sixteen. He was suspended for four years after just one race for his involvement in a four-horse accident at the starting gate. However, he returned in 1900 to ride a horse named Thrive in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third. He rode the race again in 1901 and 1902, winning on His Eminence and Alan-a-Dale respectively - in 1901 alone, he won 220 races. He competed in his final Derby in 1903, finishing second on Early.
Later that year, Winkfield emigrated to Russia where he was greeted as a celebrity and in the name of the Czar Nicholas II competed at racetracks all over Europe. He won the Russian Oaks five times, the Russian Derby four times, the Czar's Prize on three occasions, and the Warsaw Derby twice. The Russian Revolution caused him to leave the country in 1917 and he moved to France where he resumed racing, scoring numerous wins including the Prix du Président de la République, Grand Prix de Deauville, and the Prix Eugène Adam. He retired as a jockey at age fifty having won more than 2,500 races then began a second successful career as a horse trainer.
Winkfield lived on a farm near the Hippodrome de Maisons-Laffitte (racetrack) in Maisons-Laffitte on the outskirts of Paris. He remained there until fleeing the German occupation of France during World War II. After the war, he eventually returned to the farm at Maisons-Laffitte where he lived until his death 1974.
In 1960, Jimmy Winkfield made an appearance at the Kentucky Derby to celebrate 60 years since his historic victories. In 2004 he was inducted posthumously into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack is run in his honor.
In 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Jimmy Winkfield. The full details can be read here at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
As for Smarty Jones, well Smarty was a darn fine horse that won a couple of races you might have heard of in 2004, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
OK, what do we have here today? A couple of three year old non graded stakes, just to get a feel for the talent pool belong Uncle Mo, which, with just a few exceptions, hasn't lit the house on fire yet, but The Turk's a patient man and it isn't just about the Triple Crown, its a long season and you have to do your homework. Let's get it on!
Aqueduct Race 8: The Jimmy Winkfield and Oaklawn Park Race 8: The Smarty Jones.
I don't know what do do with these short fields and the talent gaps that exist inside of them. I don't want to lament too many racing days and not enough quality horseflesh, but that's what brothers gotta do. That said, I'm keeping my betting action light and I truly believe you have to handicap and analyze constantly to learn who's out there running, so here we are.
At Aqueduct, a six horse field competes in the Jimmy Winkfield. A Rick Dutrow trained horse for Jay Em Ess Stables, Rift, seems to be the class of the group. A son of Not for Love, C. Velasquez is up today. In his previous three starts he's been in the money each time and has one win on the inner dirt.
Royal Currier is a son of Red Bullet, winner of the Preakness and the Gotham. Training nicely and comes in with two straight wins and 6 of 6 lifetime in the money. I like him for a value win bet.
Fort Hughes is a son of Henny Hughes, winner of the King's Bishop, the Vosburgh, The Champagne and Hopeful and a place in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and career earnings totalling $1.124 MM. The Darley Stables Colt, trained by K. Mclaughlin with E. Castro up, starts for the third time and has two solid previous efforts.
Trainer Levine and jock D. Coen have 23% of their races at the Big A. Bambi Bound, coming off a good 6f inner track effort in early December has a chance at minor prize, but pay attention for future restricted NYS bred action.
And at Oaklawn, a Harlan's Holiday son, Grant Jack, comes in off a win for Trainer Bret Calhoun, something he wins with 31% of the time after 212 tries. Harlan's Holiday won over $3.6 MM in his career with big wins in the Donn, Florida Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes and I like this horse as he stretches out further.
Archarcharch is a son of Arch, sire of Blame and a Grade I winner. Comes in off two solid and improving efforts for trainer Fires and jock Court. Fires stats are pedestrian at sprints/routes (7%), won last starts (0%) and just 10% of routes. He also saddles Bluegrass Bull who I don't think much of right now.
Again, I'm watching and learning more that betting. This type of legwork during the season helps you go for the bigger scores as the season rolls on.
And always, study the race charts and deconstruct your handicaps in a post race analysis. The following was two stakes from Santa Anita over the weekend, The Sham and San Fernando.
In the Sham, Tapizar struck the lead at the 1/4 pole and never gave it up. he never had to deal with any sustained pressure from Uncle Sam, the bettors second choice that I wisely discounted. Clubhouse Ride was clearly second best and the rest were an afterthought.
In the San Fernando, pre race I wondered in Mike Smith could make a difference with a horse content to win minor awards and it seemed that he did. Indian Firewater paid $13.00 for the winning effort. I discounted the chalk down, Thisskyhasnolimit and he weakened when he shouldn't have. Tweebster gave a good accounting and I'll look for his run back but I won't not so much with Haimish Hy.
Enjoy the holiday and enjoy the Eclipse Awards as well. I think these types of award shows are a joke, but I want to see if common sense prevails on Horse of the Year or not from curiosity standpoint. Turk out!